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Quick, someone reanimate Ayn Rand!

By J. DeVoy

In a delightful smackdown of self-righteous and ignorant Americans who think they have a “right” to everything, including not being inconvenienced, American and Continental airlines will cancel flights rather than abide by new Federal regulations limiting the time flyers can spend sitting on a tarmac.  Under the new regulations, airlines can be fined in excess of $27,000 per passenger if the plane is stuck on the tarmac for more than three hours.  As the article points out, a delayed Boeing 757 can cost the airline more than $5 million in fines.

So, how does the traveling public that actually produces value feel about this?

Frequent flier Dave Wooldridge said he plans to punish airlines that cancel flights by taking his business elsewhere.

“I won’t fly that airline again,” he said. “They risk losing a lot of people if that’s what they become known for, canceling flights.”

Traveler Andrea Ramirez also didn’t agree with the airlines’ tactic.

“I would definitely rather be late than not go at all,” Ramirez said. “That’s for sure.”

Inconvenient as delays are, the people who squeal loudest about this likely don’t fly much.  Such long delays are uncommon and, for frequent travelers, the inconvenience of a cancelled flight is greater than a delayed one. 

“It’s unavoidable that more flights will be canceled to avoid fines,” said American Airlines spokesman Steve Schlachter. “It’s one of the unintended consequences of a bill that has no flexibility.”


The entire notion of “rights” is suspect, but they do have consequences once defined.  In this case, airlines have responded by cutting service rather than facing millions of dollars in liability.  The incidents that fueled this regulation were few and far between, but lofty rhetoric like Barbara Boxer’s 2007 statement, “no one should be held hostage on an aircraft,” have brought us to this point.  Hopefully these regulations are not long for the aviation world.

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